FALL CAMP DAY 3: Youngsters making a mark

PULLMAN -- The WSU football team strapped on the shoulder pads Tuesday for the first time this season. Injuries to Cody Boyd and Chris Jordan have coaches grimacing. Meanwhile, newcomers Brandon Gibson and Lorenzo Bursey, along with second-year offensive lineman Andy Roof, are charging hard out of the gate in the eyes of coach Bill Doba. Plus, a JC transfer took the field in crimson for the first time.

Doba lauded Brandon Gibson (6-0, 195), along with offensive lineman Andy Roof and cornerback Lorenzo Bursey, as the three most impressive players thus far in camp.

Gibson, a two way star from Puyallup's Rogers High, snagged a one handed catch from coach Mike Levenseller while working with fellow receivers on out-routes during Tuesday's morning session. Doba said Gibson should play this season and has been drawing admiration from teammates.

AFTER TWO PRACTICES in helmets and shorts, Tuesday's padded up session meant there was more hittin' going on -- especially in the trenches.

"I told them, ‘You guys get your first practice today,' cracked defensive coordinator Robb Akey. "We've been standing out her lying in the sun the last couple days."

Akey said the pads caused a whole new style of practice to open up.

"It's good to seem them start to use the things we've been teaching the last few days," said Akey. "We got more out of practice today."

Defensive ends Adam Braidwood and Mkristo Bruce, along with tackles Aaron Johnson and Ropati Pitoitua appear entrenched as the season's starters but the line depth is considerable and could afford the Cougs to liberally rotate this season -- something they were not able to do last year. Tuesday, both senior end Adam West and true freshman tackle Fevaea'i Ahmu grabbed Akey's attention during drills.

"He came off the ball and really got after the tight end in that half-line drill (and) stoned up the run on the right side," Akey said of West, the former tight end from Venice, California. "If he can focus each practice on performing consistently, then he's got a chance to help us out."

Akey went on to say Ahmu's size, strength and quickness have him and coach Mike Walker grinning. Ahmu (6-1, 284) is one of the more celebrated members of the newest class of recruits, having earned a mountain of honors at San Diego's Serra High during his prep career. Still, 'So far, so good' seems to be Akey's outlook on his beefy defenders, but he said a lot of work remains to be done.

AS FOR THE oft-injured Cody Boyd, trainer Bill Drake said Boyd's MRI was negative for stress fracture and loose cartilage, but was ultimately inconclusive. A CT scan was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Boyd injured his ankle in what initially looked like a simple sprain on Sunday, the first day of fall camp. He was on crutches Tuesday, watching the early drills from the sideline. Boyd (6-8, 255) missed a significant portion of last season as well as parts of the last two spring camps due to injury.

Chris Jordan, who blew his left knee during the 2003 Apple Cup, was also held out of drills after experiencing soreness in his right knee. Jordan landed awkwardly after a mid-air collision Monday with cornerback Alex Teems. The standout from Kent finished practice but caution was exercised Tuesday when he complained of soreness.

"Scared the heck out of me," said coach Bill Doba of the play, and Jordan's subsequent soreness. Drake called the injury a light sprain and estimated that receiver may need as much as three days off, although Jordan though he would be back sooner than that.

Fellow receiver Thomas Ostrander (back spasms) will be held out at least three more days.

DeWayne Patterson (6-1, 220) was finally cleared and was able to take part in practice on Tuesday. The safety had been waiting on his junior college paperwork to be processed.

The Bayou Bomber, Cory Evans, is listed as a safety on the WSU roster but was recruited by the Cougs as a linebacker. The pride of Lena, Louisiana, has worked with the 'backers since Day One of camp.

As practice ended and players shuffled from Rogers Field, rookie safety Courtney Williams, from Southern California was heard to proclaim, "I need to get in some air conditioning!" Even with practices starting early in the morning, temperatures have held steady in the 80 to 90 degree range.

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